Marcelo Gallardo's River breathe new life into Argentine game

Marcelo Gallardo's River breathe new life into Argentine game

River Plate are reaping the rewards of putting their faith in coach Marcelo Gallardo, who as a player was steeped in the club`s attacking ethos, after a run of five consecutive wins.

With Boca Juniors recovering from a poor start to the Argentine championship after a change of coach, there is the prospect of a revival of all that is best in the Big Two`s great rivalry.

River`s 2-0 home win over Tigre at the Monumental on Sunday, with goals from Uruguayan striker Rodrigo Mora, kept them top of the table with 16 points out of a possible 18.

"With each successive match we`re showing the faith the coach puts in us. This present reality is no miracle, this is (the fruit of) hard work, we had a good pre-season," Mora, who was on loan to Universidad de Chile when River won the title under Ramon Diaz last season, told reporters.

With the league`s six-goal top marksman Teo Gutierrez missing on international duty with Colombia, Mora took on the scoring mantle with goals either side of halftime for a championship tally of three.

"River`s coach likes the ball, to take the game to the opposition and play in their half of the field: a daring style," wrote former Boca and Argentina midfielder Diego Latorre recently in his regular column in the sports daily Ole.

"When you talk to a player about the ball and tell him you want to attack, his self-esteem grows because you are putting your faith in him," the pundit added.

Latorre says that the exodus of talent from Argentina, whose national team is nearly all European-based, in the last two decades has led to an impoverishment of the domestic game.

"Not only have we suffered the exodus of players, but ideas too. Argentine football - passes, associations, dribbling, risk, daring - is not played here," he had written previously.

Gallardo won league titles with River and Monaco and was the most attack-minded midfielder in Daniel Passarella`s Argentina squad at the 1998 World Cup in France.

One of a long line of creative midfielders at River that down the years has included the likes of Alfredo di Stefano, Omar Sivori, Ermindo Onega, Norberto Alonso, Andres D`Alessandro and Pablo Aimar, Gallardo has not been afraid to build his team in that image.

Boca have won both their matches under Rodolfo Arruabarrena, another young coach breathing new life into the Argentine game who took over from Carlos Bianchi after the record title winner had lost his touch.

Seven points off River`s pace, Boca will be eagerly looking forward to the "superclasico" derby against their arch rivals at the Monumental in less than a month`s time as a chance to reel them in.

After striker Emmanuel Gigliotti had headed Boca`s late winner at Olimpo on Sunday, their World Cup midfielder Fernando Gago said: "There`s time, and mathematically we can still (catch up with River)." 

Velez Sarsfield are in second place with 13 points having dropped five points in their last two matches, a 3-1 defeat at Boca followed by a 0-0 draw with third-placed Newell`s Old Boys.  

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